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Henry J M Barnett

BMJ 2016; 355 doi: (Published 22 November 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;355:i6293
  1. Ned Stafford
  1. Hamburg
  1. ns{at}

Neurologist who “turned stroke into something that doctors can prevent”

Credit: Western University

In 1983 a young doctor in the UK who was planning to train in neurology picked up a copy of the first ever issue of Neurologic Clinic, which focused on cerebrovascular disease.1 Henry J M Barnett was guest editor of the issue and also wrote the foreword, which had a profound effect not only on the young doctor, but on the entire specialty of neurology.

“It was immediately clear from reading his foreword that Barnett was changing the world of neurology as we knew it,” recalls Alastair Buchan, who was the young doctor in 1983 and is now dean of medicine and professor of stroke medicine at the University of Oxford. “His hypothesis was that stroke is preventable.”

Buchan was so impressed with the foreword that he moved to Canada to train in neurology under Barnett, who was chair of the department of clinical neurological sciences at Western University in London, Ontario.

Buchan told The BMJ that Barnett was “the neurologist who turned stroke from being an ‘act of God’ into something that physicians could prevent.”

Indeed, in 2008 Barnett—after decades of groundbreaking work—travelled to Stockholm …

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